Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Whittier and Chenega Bay on the M/V Kennicott

Today we awoke in Whittier, a major shipping hub into the interior of Alaska,
and a connector to Anchorage. Although the town has only a population around
500, it is a very busy little port, acres of shipping containers, miles and
miles of train tracks, and trains coming in and out every few minutes.






There is an old government building, it looks like something the Soviets built.
It is huge, and was damaged by a bad earthquake several years ago so it has been condemned as unusable, but would be so expensive to destroy that they haven’t torn it down yet. It has become a sort of cult place, a favorite for raves and spontaneous parties, young people camp there. It is rumored to be haunted, which only makes it more alluring. No matter how secure they try to make the building, someone finds a way in.


There is some confusion in my mind about arrivals and departures – they are not
the same as the list I so carefully printed off from the website. If I had known we would be in Whittier until 10:30 we would have debarked, which we are allowed to do if we have tickets and ID to get back on. My little calendar showed a 0800 departure, so we waited, and waited – but the ferries make their own rules, according to weather and tides and what they are porting from one seaside village to another. We watched containers full of goods come on for the more remote locations.

I used to surprise my Kuwait friends, telling them it was a lot like Alaska, and the longer I am back here, the more parallels I see. One is that almost
everything you eat or wear or build with has to come from somewhere else. That
requires shipping, or flying something in. I remember my Mother used to order
our snow suits in August, so they would arrive before the ships stopped coming
in. Like Kuwait, groceries are expensive, especially specialty items that are
imported. Like Kuwait, people are dressed modestly, all the important parts
covered – it’s cold! Most women are covered from their toes to their wrists! If
the weather is bad enough, even their hair is covered, and occasionally their
faces! Men, too! Very modest people, these Alaskans 🙂


AdventureMan wanted to take a shower, but the ferry system asks that we not
shower while in port; they like not to dump waste water in port, so as soon as
we departed, he jumped in the nice warm shower. Once again, almost all we can
see is open water, en route to Chenega Bay, and fog.



During the trip to Chenega Bay, the big excitement is the once-a-week fire drill, and this time, the fire was near our cabin (pretend fire.) I am guessing some people would rather ignore the fire drills, but think about it – aren’t you glad the crew goes through these exercises in case there is some emergency? Aren’t you glad they know what to do? One of the guys laughed and said “We get a lot of respect and people step aside when they see us carrying these fire extinguishers!” The purser told me that sometimes people STEAL the signs they put on doors – imagine!

Lifeboat being lowered:


Do Not Enter tag on our door:

Chenega Bay – We arrive, foggy but no rain, to find an eagle perched in nearby tree, welcoming us.



Very short turn around time shown, so once again, we do not leave the ship, but wish we had when departure time is postponed. The dock is not near anything, but a short walk over the hill takes you to the small village of Chinega Bay and a beautiful Russian Orthodox Church and an Alaska Native arts museum named after fisherman Johnny Totenoff.

What love what happens here – this village of only maybe 50 people are welcomed on board whenever the ferry docks. They are isolated, remote. The men, women and children ride their ATV’s down the hill to the ferry, come aboard, and chow down on hamburgers, fries, and soft ice cream cones. Some of the young girls are dressed in long dresses, sort of odd, maybe a religious group. Others are wearing short short skirts and tank tops in the cool, foggy weather. Before the ferry departs, the Chenega Bay residents all have to debark.

Departing Chenega Bay:


Beginning to see snow peaked mountains en route to Kodiak Island

September 5, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Beauty, Birds, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Environment, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Photos, Road Trips, Safety, Travel, Wildlife | , | 2 Comments


One tiny word, one great big tip-off. It’s almost always in the prepositions 🙂

From Courier Ethan Reilly

Screen shot 2013-09-05 at 11.44.16 AM

September 5, 2013 Posted by | Financial Issues, Lies, Scams | Leave a comment

To Yakutat on the M/V Kennicott

Groan, docked at Yakutat early. Although we slept well, we are not eager to
debark at 0600, so we stay on the boat, which is a really fun decision.
AdventureMan discovers the upper aft viewing deck, inside and outside, and we
watch a fishing boat come in, the fisherman scurry up the slippery ladder, the
small tractors set up a weighing station and watch the fisherman upload his
morning’s catch, and see it graded, weighed and sorted all in a matter of
minutes. Three huge loads! It’s a hard life, being a fisherman, a lot of heavy
lifting and working in the rain and stormy weather. 00YakutatFisherman













Yakutat is a small town, a fisherman’s town. Departing Yakutat:


The rest of the day we are out in open water, and it is grey, grey, grey. I have to give the birders a lot of creds; they are manning the observation post in the bow and there are never fewer than three, with their bird spotting scopes.


We spend the afternoon alternately reading and walking all the decks to see if
we are missing anything. We are not. It is a dull day, not unlike many travel
days, the difference being that we have a nice private cabin where we can hang
out, re-charge our camera batteries, our phones, our iPad. It’s a good thing we
have the iPad, I can read, I can play Sudoku. I iPad allows me to
take notes (this was actually a note) because THERE IS NO WI-FI onboard. I am so shocked, I pretend to be cool about it but inside I am sort of freaking out. I just assumed there would be wi-fi everywhere. I was wrong.

AdventureMan, ever the gentleman, volunteered to take the upper bunk, but I
insisted. I am nimble on ladders, and I like being able to perch up here in my
lair and look out our window. I saw more Orcas playing the first day, and can
keep an eye out for when the sky lightens and the sun makes an appearance. Local weather people actually call these “sunbreaks.”


The cabin also has a generous supply of outlets – each bunk lamp in the cabin has an outlet plug, and then there are two other convenient double sockets.

We reserved a 4-bed with bath because we wanted an outside room – and because we like the convenience of having our own bathrooms. The two unused bunks are
stowed, and we have a large lounge chair, a table, and another chair. The toilet and shower are in a cabinet – lots of nice, hot water – and there is a sink outside the cabinet, with a mirror and another outlet, and separate overhead light. Very convenient, and it feels very roomy.

Years ago when I was off to college, the airlines were on strike and I had to
take the military ship Rose from Bremerhaven to the US and then fly Air Canada
to my university town. Just imagine – a military transport ship full of college
students. It was truly a wonderful time. I told AdventureMan this morning that I remember keeping my suitcase up in my bunk, and dressing up there as we only had like 14 inches between left side bunks and right side bunks, and with four
college girls, that wasn’t much. I can’t remember, but I don’t think we had our own toilet and shower, I think we had to use group ones. This cabin is about 8 feet across and 12 feet long, with the shower and toilet cabinet about 2.5 by 6 feet. It is tiny, but it works. We have a rack of hanging 32 hanging hooks, which might sound like a lot, but you use a lot of different outdoor clothing, layers of clothing; long sleeved shirts, hoodies, rain-gear, fleece, sweatshirts – the weather changes, you can be warm – but soaked.

Lunch is warming and healthy:


September 5, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Cultural, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Photos, Road Trips, Travel, Work Related Issues | , , , | Leave a comment